Monday, December 20, 2010

Dark Chocolate Bark Assortment with Cardamom, Salted Cashew or Spicy Almonds

So this was clearly an experiment but it turned our fabulous so I had to post the recipe. I wanted to make Dark Chocolate Bark because I absolutely love dark chocolate. My favorite is the 70% organic kind. That and red wine might be my two indulgences I can't live without. So I decided to try a couple variations on making chocolate:
1) Using Cardamom seeds -- this is an indian spice that is pretty strong but after toasting, it tasted good and I actually saw some chocolate at whole foods with cardamom that gave me the idea
2) Something with salt -- for this I was thinking about Chocolate & Sea salt but decided to use Salted Cashews instead
3) Something with Cayenne: For this I used the Sweet & Spicy Almonds that I have also posted 
Ingredients:
8 oz Semisweet chocolate (two 4 oz bars of Ghiradelli)
8 oz Bittersweet chocolate (two 4 oz bars of Ghiradelli)
Nuts: Salted Cashew, Sweet and Spicy Almonds
Secret Ingredient: Cardamom seeds toasted.

Create a waterbath or double boiler by placing a glass bowl over a saucepan with boiling water. Ideally you want the steam from the water to touch the glass bowl but not the water itself so that the chocolate melts slowly. 

On wax paper, spread salted cashew on half and spicy almonds (see recipe in my blog) on the second half.  Keep the nuts close together before pouring chocolate.  Add toasted cardamom seeds to the chocolate and pour over the nuts. Leave to cool for several hours. Best the next day.   

Sweet and Spicy Almonds

These are a great holiday snack to have with drinks and for snacking before dinner. They have a bit of a kick and are much more fun than regular almonds - you wont be able to stop eating them.
Ingredients:
2 Cups of untreated, unblanched Almonds
Honey
Olive Oil
Cayenne pepper, Coarse Salt, Sugar

1) Spread almonds evenly on baking dish and bake at 350 for 10 minutes and until fragrant.
2) In a large bowl combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tst of coarse salt, 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
3) In a small non-stick combine 1 tblsp honey + 1 tblsp water + 1 teaspoon Olive oil. Cook for 1 minute. Add to toasted Almonds. Toss to coat.
4) Transfer nuts to sugar mixture. Toss. Cool. Best the next day and can be stored for 2 weeks.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chicken Biryani (homestyle) with Cucumber Mint Raita

Biryani is a traditional Indian dish made with a number of spices(whole and ground, rice, chicken or meat and vegetables. Sort of like a jambalaya or a paella but very different in the type of spices and flavor.
This is a homemade recipe from Lulu Auntie who is a family friend and I just love it. We made it the other day and enjoyed it for days so I thought it would definitely be worth uploading. The cucumber raita (salad) is a perfect accompaniment.
Ingredients:
Chicken (2 - 3 chicken breast chopped ~2lbs)
Onion 2 medium or 1 large chopped lengthwise, fine
Whole spices fried to flavor oil:
Cinnamon sticks 2
Cloves 6
Cardamom 6
Masala (mix of dry ground spices):
Coriander powder 2 tsp
Turmeric 1 tsp
Cumin powder 1 tsp
Additional Ingredients:
2-3 cups basmati rice
Mint leaves (handful chopped)
Cilantro (handful chopped)
Green chilli 2-3 slit lengthwise but left whole
ginger garlic paste 1 tablespoon each
Yogurt 2 cups
Saffron (optional,gives a good color)

1) Sautee a whole lot of onions in olive oil and make sure they are golden brown before you set aside. While doing this make some half-boil rice (1 cup basmati rice usually = 1.5 cups water). Typically the rice takes 20 mins but in this case stop after 10 mins because we will be cooking it later in the oven.
3) In oil heat whole spices till they release their fragrance. Add the garlic and ginder paste.
4) Add the greens (green chilli, chopped cilantro and mint)
5) Add the masalas or dry ground spices. A bit of red chilli powder can also be added as optional.
6) Fry chicken and let turn a bit brown before adding the yogurt. Let thicken into a korma. Add 1/3 of the onions. Set the rest aside for layering in biryani.
7) In a glass baking dish, layer rice (1/3) followed by half the korma followed by the onions (1/3). Add second layer of rice (1/3), rest of korma, rest of the onions. Make holes and pour ghee or butter. Mix a pinch of saffron+warm milk and pour on rice for the beautiful coloring.  Bake for 30 mins at 350.

Cucumber Mint Raita:
Grate cucumber and squeeze out water. Mix with yogurt, salt and a pich of cumin (be careful not to overpower with cumin here). Add a tsp of chopped cilantro and mint. Grated carrot can also be used. Refrigerate if possible before serving.
The result is a wholesome rice and meat dish for a group of 4-6 people. The coolness of the raita helps compliment the spices. Mmmm, delicious.